Skip to main content

Full text of "John Siberch, the first Cambridge printer, 1521-1522"

See other formats


JOHN SIBERCH 



PUBLISHERS. 




CAMBRIDGE. 



LONDON: MACWILLAN .^ CO., F.td. 
(ILASGOW: MACLEHOSE. lACKSON .S: CO. 



JOHN SIBERCH 

The First Cambridge Printer 



1521-1522 



BY 



GEORGE J. GRAY 



Author of The Earlier Cambridge Stationers a?id Bookbinders, and the first 
Cambridge Printer; John Siberch : Bibliographical Notes, 1886 — 1905 (unth 
R. Bowes); Wills and Inventories of Printers, Binders, and Stationers of 
Cambridge from 1504 to 1699 (luith Dr. W. M. Palmer); Index to the Cole 
MSS. ; General Index to Hazlitfs Handbook and his Bibliographical Collec- 
tions ; A Bibliography of the Works of Sir Isaac Nejuton ; Coopers' Athe?iae 
Cantabrigienses, Vol. Ill, with additions, corrections, and a neiv Index, c^c. 



In Commemoration of the Four-hundredth 
Anniversary of Printing in Cambridge 



CAMBRIDGE .■*.'*. *.'./, ] '"' 
BOWES & BOW Ek"'^" ''"'■''-''' 



1 92 I 




Border fust used by Siberch on the title-page of Lucian Trepl ciyj^dciLH'. 1521. 



JOHN SIBERCH 

IT seems only right that this year we should in some way 
celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the advent of 
printing in Cambridge. Especially should we, as the present repre- 
sentatives of the book-trade, keep in remembrance those of our 
predecessors who undertook the risks and responsibilities connected 
with the introduction of the art of printing in our land. Amidst the 
hurry and turmoil of the present day we are liable to forget the 
originators of the immense wealth of books with which we are now 
surrounded. 

Unlike our sister University, we have no uncertainty about the 
commencement of printing in this town. 1521 is the date of the first 
work printed here. The date of the commencement of printing in 
Oxford is still a matter of doubt, owing to a probable error in the 
printed date of the first work. But it is sufficient here to state that 
Oxford preceded Cambridge in the art of printing, and that the 
Cambridge press was the fifth established in the provinces. 

If I may say so, it is fitting that such an attempt at commemora- 
tion should be made by one who has helped to gather together a few 
unconsidered trifles which have thrown light upon the mystery 
enveloping the life and work of John Siberch, the first printer in 
Cambridge. 

In saying this I do not intend for one moment to belittle the 
work of predecessors. To Mr. Robert Bowes, with whom it has 
been my privilege to work, is due the beginning ci pui present ^ay 
interest in the subject. By the fortunate purchase, .of a ^ copy' of 
Linacre's Latin translation of Galen, Be' TcM/^sramgnHf.^ p:]nts'3 
in Cambridge, 1521, he was drawn to the question of the origin 
of Cambridge printing, and by his enthusiasm warmed others, 



B759GG 



and succeeded in interesting the late Henry Bradshaw to such an 
extent that Bradshaw took the matter in hand and worked at the 
printer and his printing, with the result that we have from his pen a 
masterpiece of bibliography in the Bibliographical Introduction, left 
unfinished, but completed and printed after his death under the 
editorship of his successor, Mr. F. J. H. Jenkinson. This was 
the last work on which Mr. Bradshaw was engaged when his health 
gave way in August, 1885. On the 31st of that month he wrote to 
Mr. Bowes, " I managed to go to London on Friday, and worked 
hard at all their Cambridge Siberch books, with satisfactory results." 

Sir G. W. Prothero, in his Memoir of Henry Bradshaw (p. 309), 
says : " Another bibliographical problem, smaller and more capable of 
complete solution, occupied Bradshaw for a short time this summer. 
This was an investigation of the work of the first Cambridge printer, 
John Siberch, who printed several books at Cambridge in 1521-22. 
Mr. Robert Bowes had issued, in 1878, a facsimile of one of these 
books, Linacre's translation of Galen, and was anxious to publish the 
other productions of Siberch's press. At his suggestion, Bradshaw 
set to work on the books, and succeeded in discovering, from internal 
evidence alone, the exact order in which Siberch's eight volumes were 
published. The different copies of one of these, however, an edition 
of Papyrius Gemiims, displayed certain variations which could not 
easily be explained. The publication was therefore delayed, in order 
to give Bradshaw time to examine all the known copies. This he 
was able to do in 1885, and by putting the books side by side, and 
patiently comparing them, he made out a complete history of this, 
the first Cambridge press." 

But Sir G. VV. Prothero's statement that Bradshaw had made out 
a cqmpletp history Df the first Cambridge press was only partially 
true, for siri.cc':tiitin-at fragment of another work has been discovered, 
. and. tb^ i . mention."! atc"r. 

■\\\^'y(.i} ^xi^'A\^W^ 'Bibliographical Introduction is an extremely 
interesting and valuable piece of work, and it " has added an import- 
ant chapter to the history of printing in England." It shows the 



gradual process by which he obtained the definite order in which the 
books were printed, and if he had been spared longer to us he might 
possibly have carried on his researches further. But those who knew 
him know how difficult it was to get him to publish any special 
piece of work — he aimed at completeness. Yet, in opposition to this 
remark, we have those valuable notes of his to the fragments of the 
Day-book of John Dome, an Oxford bookseller, dated 1520, edited 
by Mr. F. Madan. The notes were written in a few days, and sent to 
Mr. Madan with a covering letter dated 30th of January 1886, just 
twelve days before his death. These he called " A Half-Century of 
Notes on the Day-Book of John Dome as edited by F. Madan." 
They cover about thirty folios of foolscap. He made an Index 
and drew ont a title-page, and had the sheets bound as a book, 
writing a title-label on the upper cover, sending the work off at once 
to Mr. Madan at the Bodleian. Round the title-page is written the 
text, " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might ; for 
there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave 
whither thou goest, Ecclesiastes 9, 10." Note this quotation, and 
remember that the hand which wrote it was stilled for ever within the 
short space of twelve days. 

This manuscript has been completely reproduced in facsimile for 
friends, and no one can look at the notes without noticing the 
ingenuity shewn in finding the real title of a book from the very vague 
entries in the Day-Book and Bradshaw's knowledge of bookselling at 
that early time. 

In regard to this ingenuity connected with the identification of 
books, I would mention the inventory attached to the will of Nicholas 
Pilgrim, a Cambridge bookbinder, who was with Garrett Godfrey 
and succeeded to his business, and died in 1545. It is printed in the 
Wills and Inventories of Cambridge Booksellers, by Dr. W. M. Palmer 
and myself. This Inventory of only twenty-five years after Dome 
gives valuable and probably unique information concerning books kept 
for sale in our University town a little over twenty years after 
Siberch's time. I had to exercise all my powers of ingenuity to 



8 

recognise the books mentioned as written in the manuscript, and Mr. 
Bradshaw's successor, Mr. Jenkinson, solved one which entirely baffled 
me. I wish I could give it here, but although I know the book I have 
not a copy of the manuscript version. 

Between the fragments of Dome's Day-Book of 1520 and 
Nicholas Clifton of 1570, information concerning an Oxford book- 
seller's stock is lacking, but we in Cambridge have the very full list 
of Nicholas Pilgrim of 1545 and others to fill that period of time. 

Mr. Bradshaw's Bibliographical Introduction, printed in 1886, is 
the starting point for information concerning books printed by 
Siberch. Since then the fragment of another work printed by him 
has been discovered, which, added to the eight described by Bradshaw, 
raises the production of Siberch's press to nine books, to which we 
have to add another issue of the Galen, De Temperamentis, both of 
which will be mentioned later. 

I have also re-examined most of the available copies of Siberch's 
press, and collected many additional notes, which I gathered together 
and presented to Mr. Bowes, who printed them in a little volume in 
1906, along with facsimiles of the title-pages of the eight works, and a 
facsimile of the page of the newly-discovered work, etc. I mention 
this work here, as I refer to it later. 

Three years after the printing of Bradshaw's notes, Mr. Jenkinson 
read a paper to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society (18 Nov. 1889) 
" On a unique fragment of a book printed at Cambridge early in the XVlth 
century." This paper concerned "a discovery made in the Chapter 
Library at Westminster by Mr. E. Gordon Duff. Among the frag- 
ments which formed the covers of a book in that library he found 
parts of the first sheet of the Cambridge (printed) Papyrius Geminns 
(of 1522), and he at once noticed two other leaves, part of a Latin 
Grammar, printed in the same type. None of the leaves had been 
folded, which made their a.ssociation still more suggestive. There 
could be little doubt that all came from the same press. We soon 
found that we had before us part of the little Syntax {De octo orationis 
partium constrnctione) written for use in St. Paul's School." From a 



letter of Erasmus, dated July 30, 15 15, "prefixed to the later editions, 
we learn that by Colet's direction William Lily had composed a 
syntax, which Colet had insisted upon Erasmus revising. This he 
did so effectually that Lily would not hear of its being called his 
work. Erasmus did not feel that he could own it as his, and so it 
came out anonymously ; the second edition contained Erasmus's 
disclaimer. 

" The work is a likely one to have been printed at Cambridge at 
that time. When Cambridge booksellers were importing Antwerp 
editions of Holt's Lac Pueroruni, we may be sure they would be 
ready to save money by selling a grammar printed in their own town. 
Perhaps the whole book exists somewhere unrecognized." 

Thus far Mr. Jenkinson on the addition of one more book to the 
already known productions of Siberch's press. The page is given in 
facsimile in my little work of 1906. But a further examination of the 
other fragments led to most interesting discoveries which were de- 
scribed, also by Mr. Jenkinson, in another paper read to the Cambridge 
Antiquarian Society the following year (20 Oct. 1890), which he 
entitled, "On a Letter from P. Kaetz to J. Siborch, Printer at Cam- 
bridged This letter was also in the same binding of the book De vita 
et moribus sacerdotum, by Clichtoveus, printed at Paris by H. Stephanus 
in 1 5 19, and is bound by Siberch, being one of the seven known to 
me as being bound by him. 

Quoting Mr. Jenkinson : " The pads consisted partly of printed 
leaves, including the first sheet of the 1522 Papyriiis Geminus, and 
sheet D of the hitherto unknown Cambridge edition of Lily and 
iirasmus, De octo partiiun orationis constructione /ibellus" (the subject 
of Mr. Jenkinson's previous communication), " and partly of scraps of 
manuscript. The most interesting of these is the letter." The letter 
is in Dutch, and is addressed : Dem ersame;^ ^nde vrome« Jan van 
Siborch boeckdrucker in cambritz. He 17 {^). The translation by 
Mr. Hessels is as follows : 

" ' Know, Jan Siborch, that I have received your letter, as (?) [well as speci- 
mens] (?) of your letter [type], and it is very good ; if you can otherwise... (?) and 



10 

conduct yourself well, then you will get enough to print. So I remain still in 
London because my master comes ; I expect him from day to day ; therefore I 
cannot even know when I cross, but so soon as I cross I shall do the best that is 
in my power. Item I have told Peter Rinck three or four times of the pater noster, 
but he tells me that he cannot find it, and Gibkerken (?) has not yet given Jacob 
pastor the ring but he carries it every day on his hand and he will not give it to 
Jacob Pastor. Item I send you 25 pronostication[s] and 3 New Testaments 
small [size]. The pronostications cost one sh. sterling the 25 and the 3 New 
Testaments cost 2sh. and 6d sterling, so there is still 6d due to you, which I 
remain in your debt. I have no more New Testaments, otherwise I should have 
sent you more, I know nothing else to write except [to ask you to] deliver the 
accompanying packet to Niclas and greet Baetzken for me with your whole family, 
and do not forget yourself.' 

" There can be no doubt about the identity either of the writer of 
this letter or of the person to whom it is addressed. Jan Siborch, or 
Jan van Siborch, as we here for the first time find him called in the 
vernacular, is the " Joannes Siberch " who introduced printing into 
Cambridge in the year 1521. In the form now before us the name 
seems to confirm the identification of the Cambridge printer with the 
"providus vir Joannes Lair de Siborch," at whose expense Eucharius 
Cervicornis (Hirschhorn) printed at Cologne in 1520 Richard Croke's 
Introdiictioncs in rudime7ita graeca, of which a copy at Lincoln has the 
initials L S. on the binding. Mr. Bradshaw believed that Siborch's 
residence in Cambridge was connected with the appointment of Croke 
as Professor of Greek and Public Orator. Curiously enough one of 
the scraps of writing now before us is part of a paradigm of the Greek 
verbs in -/it beautifully written. Is Croke's Greek handwriting known } 

" At the time when he wrote this letter, P. Kaetz was not yet 
doing business on his own account ; he is known to us as the pub- 
lisher of more than one Sarum service-book in the year 1524. It may 
still be possible to discover who was his ' master.' The fragment of 
Papyrius, being in what Mr. Bradshaw calls the tJiird state, points to 
the end of 1522 or beginning of 1523 as the time when these pieces of 
paper were put together in the form of paste-board. John Siborch 
may very probably have remained in Cambridge as a bookbinder 



II 

and bookseller, although as a printer we know nothing of him after 
December, 1522." 

These were most valuable discoveries. By the letter we get into 
personal contact with Siberch, and gain some information concerning 
him. I was allowed to produce a facsimile of both the letter and 
Croke's manuscript in my work on The Earlier Cambridge Stationers 
and Bookbinders and the First Cambridge P7'inter, printed 1904. 

In 1894 Mr. IJowes, being with the Library Association in 
Dublin, took the opportunity of visiting Trinity College to see their 
cop)' of the Cambridge edition of Galen, and soon saw that it had 
features which did not belong to any other copies he knew of or had 
examined, and he described the copy in a paper read to the Cam- 
bridge Antiquarian Society, 22 Oct. 1894. 

The edition was evidently earlier than the other copies, in which 
what Bradshaw took for cancel leaves are simply the original 
centre leaves of the sheet. In this newly-discovered issue is a wood- 
cut of the " Adoration of the Shepherds," which appears in no other 
work printed by Siberch, nor in the edition of Galen already known. 
The cancelled pages in the Dublin copy are produced in facsimile, 
along with a reprint of Mr. Bowes' paper, in my Bibliographical Notes 
of 1906. 

It is only just to say that Mr. Bradshaw had not seen this copy, 
and knew nothing of its interesting character ; but working on his 
lines, Mr. Bowes concluded that his discovery did not alter the order 
of Bradshaw's list. 

I have now come to a point when scattered bits of information, 
printed and unprinted, were first gathered together and printed in my 
work on The Earlier Cambridge Stationers and the First Cambridge 
Printer, issued by the Bibliographical Society in 1904, which I had the 
privilege to dedicate to Mr. Robert Bowes " as an acknowledgement of 
many encouragements." Here will be found all biographical informa- 
tion, particulars of the books printed, and, for the first time, a detailed 
description of the books bound by Siberch. 

After this publication I re-examined the available copies of 



12 

Siberch's printing, making discoveries, which, added to other informa- 
tion, were printed in 1906 under the title of Bibliographical Notes, 
1886 — 1905, by Robert Bowes and G. J. Gray. 

Ten years ago (191 1) Mr, E. Gordon Duff devoted one of his 
Sandars lectures in the University to John Siberch, and all interested 
should read that lecture, which is included in his English Provincial 
Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders to 1557, printed 19 12, 

Now for a brief summary of the man and his work. 

John Siberch, or John Laer of Siborch, or Siegburg, a tow n a few 
miles south-west of Cologne, like most of the foreign printers settled 
in England, made little use of his proper surname, but used the place- 
name instead, and called himself John Siberch. He is first met with^ 
in connection with Richard Croke's Introdnctiones m r7idimenta graeca, 
printed at Cologne by Eucharius Cervicornus, May 1520, at the 
expense of John Lair de Siborch — " expensis providi viri domini 
Joannis Lair de Siborch." The copy of this work in Lincoln Cathe- 
dral Library is bound by Siberch. I have mentioned Mr. Gordon 
Duff's discovery of a manuscript fragment of the printer's "copy" of 
this work, identified by the pencil mark for a new sheet and a new 
page, both agreeing with the printed book. The presence of this 
sheet in the boards of a book printed by Cervicornus, 15 19, bound by 
Siberch, seems to show that Siberch was already in Cambridge when 
Croke's work was publi.shed. It has been pointed out by Mr. Gordon 
Duff that Siberch was compelled to have the work printed abroad 
since no English printer of the time possessed a fount of Greek type, 
and he also points out that if Croke had acted on his own behalf, 
he would have had the work printed in Paris, w here he had studied, 
or Leipzig, where he had recently been a professor, both of which 
towns had excellent presses. But Siberch, who evidently had the 
arrangement of the printing, no doubt entrusted the work to a printer 
of the town from which he himself came, and not improbably to the 
master with whom he had himself worked. 

^ Mr. S. C. Roberts supplies an earlier reference in his forthcoming History of Printing 
at Cambridge. Erasmus, writing to John Caesarius from Louvain, 5 April 15 18, writes: 
"I was surprised that John Siberch came here without your letter." 



13 

Siberch himself, in the fourth book printed by him in 1521 
(Baldwin), claimed to be the first printer of Greek in England, and 
uses Greek letters in six of the nine books he printed. 

That John Siberch and John Laer de Siborch are the same 
person is confirmed by entries in the University Audit and Grace 
Books, where he is called variously Law, laer, leer, Siberch, etc. 

The reasonable suggestion that Siberch was in Cambridge during 
1520, when Croke's work was being printed, is partly helped by an 
entry in the University Grace Book T amongst the Graces for the 
academical year 1520-21, where there is an entry of a sum of money 
advanced to Siberch, an amount which we afterwards find to be £20. 

Now that he is in the town his residence must be pointed out. 
This we know through an entry made by Dr. Caius in his Annals of 
Gonville and Cains College. The entry was discovered by Prof R. L. 
Bensly. Dr. Caius made the entry in 1569, after some property, 
including that house, had been purchased by him from Trinity Col- 
lege, the deed of conveyance being dated June i, 1563. The entry, 
which is in Latin, is here given in English : 

" The space between the gate of Humility and the gate of Vertue 
was formerly occupied by a tenement called the King's Arms. This 
was once the residence of John Sibert, alias Siberch, the University 
Printer, who printed some books of Lydgate and others, and of 
Erasmus when he was residing at Cambridge and publicly lectured 
on St. Jerome." 

The property consisted of : 

" fower mesuages ... in the parishe of S. Michael . . . over agaynst 
the churche and churchyerd of the same parishe betwene the lane 
called Michael Lane of the northe and the tenemente of Robert Lane 
baker of the south, and abuttinge upon the Kings highway or high 
streate there on the easte, and the gardeynes and ortesyerdes belong- 
ing to Gonevill and Caius College ... on the west." 

The four tenements were Ansel's, Houghton's, Talbot's, and 
Smythe's, alias the 'King's Arms.' 



14 



More concisely in plain language, Siberch lived and printed in a 
tenement called the King's Arms, which stood on the space between 
the Gate of Humility and the Gate of Vertue, in fact, on part of the 
ground now traversed by the avenue in Tree Court. This house can 
be seen in the accurately-drawn plan of Cambridge, 1574, by John 
Hamond, from which I am allowed to reproduce the section showing it. 




Section from Ilamond's Flan of Cambridge, 1574, showing Siberchs house. 
(Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Bowe-; ^ Bowes from their forth- 
coming Old Plans of Cambridge). 

This plan is especially interesting" to me, for in addition to 
Siberch's house, it shows what are now the premises of Messrs. Bowes 
and Bowes, booksellers. These premises, I find, have been con- 
tinuously occupied by booksellers since William Scarlett, who died 



15 

i6iy. It is worth noting that whilst Siberch was living in this house, 
Segar Nicholson, afterwards one of the three official booksellers of the 
University, was living as a pensioner in the College itself from 
1520 to 1523. 

No one has, and I certainly have not, before noted a few words 
in Peter Kaetz's letter to Siborch, ' deliver the accompanying packet 
to Niclas, and greet Baetzken for me with your whole family." This 
seems to imply that Siberch had a family. And who was Niclas ? 
This must be Nicholas Spierinck, the well-known Cambridge binder, 
who had certainly already been resident in Cambridge for twenty 
years. Was he working with Siberch .-' It is a plausible question, 
for he it was who possessed one of Siberch's rolls and used it along 
with his own roll about 1524, the year after Siberch's disappearance. 

The first book printed was Henry Bullock's Oratio, with the im- 
print dated February 1521. Only four copies are known (no copy at 
Cambridge), and a slight variation in two of them. This Oration was 
made on the visit of Cardinal VVolsey in the autumn of 1520. 

The second book, Augustine's Sermo, etc., Mr. Bradshaw says 
has all the appearance of having been issued in the spring (say the 
month of April) of the year 1521. Only one copy is known, and that 
is in the Bodleian. On the title-page are two upright woodcuts. No 
woodcut initial letters are used, but 3-line spaces are left as if they were 
expected to be filled in by hand. Greek type is used for the first time. 

The third book, Lucian's irepl BiyjrdScov Henrico BuUoco inter- 
prete. Probably issued during June 1521. It contained also the 
Oratio printed earlier the same year. On the title-page appears for 
the first time the well-known border with the " Arma Regia" (France 
and England quarterly) at the foot. Still no woodcut initial letters, 
but the 3-line spaces have the letters printed in the ordinary capital 
letters as used in the text. Four copies are known, one in the library 
of St. John's College. 

The fourth book, Baldwin, Sermo de altaris sacramento. Prob- 
ably issued in the summer (say August) of 1521. It has the woodcut 



i6 

border as used in the previous work, a 6-line S woodcut initial letter 
and 3-linc spaces elsewhere are left, with the initial letters printed in 
the ordinary capital type as in the previous work. Two sentences are 
printed in Greek type, and the woodcut " Arma Regia " appears for the 




First used by Siberch on Baldwin. Sertno. 1521. 

first time. Mr. Bradshaw said that " the border round the title-page 
shows in some copies a second state." I have further discovered that 
State A has the words Reverendissimi and Cantuarien wrongly spelt 
on the title-page, which were corrected in State B, and whilst these 
corrections were made another mistake remained uncorrected — the 
catchword at the bottom of folio i''. 

Two copies of State A and six of State B and some leaves are 
known. Both states are in Cambridge Libraries. The copy of 
State A in the University Library came to them with the library of 



17 

John Moore, bishop of El)\ which George I presented to the Univer- 
sity. The book was dedicated to Nicholas West, bishop of Ely, and 
I think that it is the copy sent to him. Unfortunately it was re-bound 
at the end of the eighteenth century. 

In this work Siberch claimed to be the first printer of Greek in 
England. 

The copy of State B in Peterborougli Cathedral Library is bound 
by Nicholas Spierinck, who, as previously mentioned, used Siberch's 
roll along- with his own on bindings of books dated but a few years after. 

The fifth Avork is Erasmus de conscribendis episiolis. Siberch's 
dedication is dated " decimo Calendas Novembris (Oct. 22)," and as 
the imprint says " Mense Octobri " we must conclude that the book 
was issued at the end of October 1521. Siberch now had command 
of 6-line woodcut initials — one the C with figure of St. George and 
the Dragon, but still was without the 3-line initial letters — the space 
for these having the letters printed there in the capital type as in the 
two previous books — Lucian and Baldwin. Greek type is used on 
two pages. And the title-page has the familiar border as used also 
on the two previous works. On the title-page he uses the "cum 
gratia et privilegio " for the first time. The work was dedicated to 
Bishop Fisher, and Mr. Bradshaw remarks "it must have been on this 
occasion, and through Bishop Fisher's influence, that he obtained 
leave to place ' Cum gratia et privilegio ' on his title-pages." 

Four copies are known, two being in Cambridge. In addition to 
these Mr. Bowes possessed fragments of four sheets, in which occur 
small errors of the press, which are corrected in the printed copies. 
These sheets had never been folded, and are probably proof sheets. 
Mr. Bowes had them suitably bound, and presented them to the 
University Library as representing a work not in the Library. 

The copy of the work in Corpus Christi College was bound by 
Nicholas Spierinck. 

I have a recollection of reading somewhere that Erasmus had 
stated in a letter that this edition was printed without his consent or 
knowledge, but I cannot find my notes. 



i8 

The sixth work is the largest printed l^y Siberch — Galeni Pcrga- 
mensis de Temper amentis, et de inaeqttali in temper ie libri Ires Thoma 
Linacro Anglo interprete. Linacre's dedication to Pope Leo X is 
dated " Londini, 1521, Nonis Septembris (Sept. 5)," but as the state 
of Device 2 shows that the printing was necessarily subsequent to the 
previously-mentioned book (Fisher), we may safely conclude that the 
book was issued late in the autumn (say December) of 15 21. Leo X 
died 2 Dec. 1521. 

Mr. Bowes's discovery of the cop)' of this book in Trinity College, 
Dublin, varj'ing from the known copies, made it necessary for Mr. 
Bradshaw's description to be partly rc-written. Briefly, it is as 
follows : 

At first it was onlj'- the De Teniperamentis printed, the text 
ending on O 5 and 6, with the end of the text arranged in hour-glass 
pattern, and Siberch's imprint at the foot. On the reverse is a wood- 
cut of the Adoration of the Shepherds, also with Siberch's imprint at 
foot. The opposite folio is blank, with the woodcut " Arma Regia " 
on the reverse. Then it was decided to add the De inaequali intem- 
perie. These last leaves (Q 5 and 6) were cancelled and the ending 
text of the De Teniperamentis reprinted across the page, so occupying 
half the page, whilst the other half contained the commencement of 
the De inaequali intemperie. This alteration substituted ten leaves 
in the place of the two. It is interesting to note that this addition 
was printed in a different form, having many side notes, an arrange- 
ment different from the first treatise, where there are none. Also the 
pages were numbered " Fo. Ixv" to "Ixxiii" (74 not folio'd), the 
previous folios being unnumbered. Yet in the Contents of the work 
the references are to folios, though the first sixty-four are not 
folio'd, the Index of Errors on fo. 74 also refers to the non-existing 
numbered folios, and it is worth noting that no errors are corrected 
in the " Index Erratorum " after fo. 64, that is, no errors noted for the 
added treatise. 

These editions I have called State A and State B. Yet both of 
them have the same title-page, dedication, and contents, which, I 



19 

think, clearly proves that the second treatise was an afterthought, and 
added before the title-sheet was printed. An examination of the 
wire marks on the printed paper supports this supposition. 

A most interesting copy was purchased by Dr. J. F. Payne, who 
wrote the Introduction to the reproduction of the work published by 
Mr. Bowes in 1881. It was purchased after Mr. Bowes's discovery, 
and contains both states of the book. This copy is now in the Library 
of the Royal College of Physicians, and was presented by Dr. Payne. 
Mr. Bowes described the Dublin copy in a paper read to the Cam- 
bridge Antiquarian Society, 22 Oct. 1894, and it is reprinted with my 
Bibliographical Notes of 1906, wherein is given a facsimile of the can- 
celled page of State A. 

The work has the familiar woodcut border. 6-line initial letters 
are used, the C (with figures of St. George and the Dragon) of a 
different character to the others, and a 4-line A, which does not range 
accurately with this type. The woodcut of the Adoration of the 
Shepherds is used at the end of the text of State A only, the Arma 
Regia at the end of both states. 

There are two known copies of State B printed on vellum, and 
these are at Oxford, in the Bodleian and All Souls College. In 
printing these copies the 6-line initial letters were left out, evidently 
for the letters to be artistically filled in by hand. This is done in the 
All Souls' copy, but that in the Bodleian is not so done ; also, the 
Bodleian copy has sheet S wrongly printed, through one side of a 
sheet being laid on the printing press the wrong way. 

There are more copies known of this work than of other produc- 
tions of Siberch's press : One copy of State A at Dublin ; one copy 
of States A and B in the Royal College of Physicians. Of State B 
eight copies (three at Cambridge) and some fragments which Mr. Bowes 
presented to the University Library, not forgetting also the two copies 
printed on vellum which I have just spoken about. 

The seventh work was JoJiannis Roffensis episcopi contio .... in 
latinmn per Richardum Pacaeum. The preface of Nicholas Wilson is 
dated " Kalend. lanuarii 1521," which must clearly stand for Jan. i. 



20 

1521-22, SO that the book may be considered to have been issued 
during the month of January in what we call 1522. 

There are two issues — one with the word 'virum,' the other with 
the same word printed ' verum ' on the title-page. Only five copies 
in all are known, one in Cambridge being in a volume of tracts in 
Magdalene College Library, discovered in 1909. Mr. Bowes and I 
were told of its discovery, but when we went by appointment to see 
it we were told the volume had disappeared. Happily it turned up 
afterwards, having been taken away with other books by mistake- 
Another copy has recently been presented to the University Library 
by a few friends in memory of Mr. H. G. Aldis, Secretary of the 
Library, who died 191 9. The woodcut border with the royal arms is 
used no more ; in its place appears the trademark and initials of the 
printer used for the first time. 

During 1913 I came across some letters written on behalf of 
Bishop Fisher by his chaplain, Richard Sharpe, to Dr. Nicholas 
Metcalfe, Master of St. John's College, contributed to the Eagle in 
1893 by the present Master of the College (Mr. R. F, Scott), who 
very kindly allowed me to do what I liked with the Fisher letters ; 
and as some gave references to booksellers and books, I pulled them 
to pieces and rearranged those interesting to me, and wrote an article 
which was printed in The Library, April, 191 3. They were of the 
interesting period of 1521-23. Two of them refer to this edition of 
Pace's Latin translation of the sermon preached by Bishop Fisher at 
St. Paul's, 1 2th May, 1521. In the conveyance of the sermon from 
one person to another the last part was lost, and the Bishop had to 
re-write it. In a letter from Sharpe to Metcalfe (London }) he says : 
" My lord desyreth your maistershipe to . . . send his sermon as shortly 
as can be that Mr secretary hath. My lorde is very sory that the last 
part of his sermon is lost it will cost hym sum labour for I thynke he 
have not the copye." Later, in another letter to Metcalfe, " I send to 
you by this berer now my lordes lettre which is to Mr Secretary. I 
had it red and therefore ye shall know somewhat of the tenor thereof 
Fyrst there is thankes for his last lettres, then he signifyes to him the 



21 

popes grete thankes for the sermon whiche thanks my lord rekennetli 
Mr Secretary most worthy of all by cause he hath taken such paynes 
in Fourming it in to latyn . . . Moreouer syr ye shall receyve of this 
berer my lordes sermon in ynglyshe which he prayethe you to put to 
Wynkyn to print and he prayethe you to speke to Jhon Gowghe to 
see it diligently done & trewly printed. He signifyethe to Mr 
Secretary that he puttes this to Wynkyn & desyreth of hym one in 
latyn." 

Mr. Secretary is Richard Pace, Secretary of State. Pope Leo X 
thanks Bishop Fisher for the Latin translation of the sermon, which, 
evidently, was sent to him in manuscript. Leo X died 2 Dec. 1521, 
and Pace was immediately sent to Rome to advocate Cardinal 
Wolsey's candidature for the papacy, remaining abroad for more than 
a year, certainly until 14 Sept. 1523, when Adrian VI died, and 
Clement VII was elected. The last letter must then have been 
written before December 1 521, and before either the English or the 
Latin translation of the sermon was printed. Nicholas Wilson, M.A. 
of Christ's College, wrote a long preface in praise of Richard Pace, 
which is printed with the Cojitio, and he was evidently responsible for 
its printing, and in his preface speaks of the bishop as not having 
cared to make the translation. 

It is a curious question why Pace's Latin translation of the 
Sermon was not printed by Wynkyn de Worde, but by Siberch at 
Cambridge. It may have been by the interest of Nicholas Wilson, 
who resided in Cambridge, and being responsible for its production, 
could more easily attend to the matter in his own town than to have 
it done so far away as London was in those days. We know that 
about 1522 Wynkyn de Worde was employing other presses, so there 
is a possibility that he got Siberch to print the sermon. But I prefer 
the first suggestion. 

The English Sermon was printed by Wynkyn de Worde without 
a date, and I can tell a story how a copy of Bishop Fisher's 1526 
Sermon was confused with one of the 152 1 Sermon. A copy of both were 
found together in the binding of a book, and were afterwards bound 



22 

separately alike by Bedford, the London binder, lettered exactly the 
same as being both printed by Wynkyn de Worde, which led to the 
confusion ; and on working the matter out, the 1521 Sermon was found 
to be printed by Wynkyn de Worde and the 1526 by Berthelet. The 
1 521 copy had for years found a resting place in the University Library, 
and the 1526 followed, after I had printed an account of the work in 
The Library of January 191 2, and now the two are once again brought 
together. 

The eighth work is Papyrii Gemini Eleatis Hermathena. The 
colophon says it was printed 8th December 1522. The author's 
dedication to Richard Pace is dated February 1522, whilst that at the 
end is dated Sept. 1522. Again the woodcut border is not used, and 
experiments were made for a new kind of title-page. We find three 
states of the title-page, the final one with two narrow border slips at 
the top and bottom, connected together at the sides by a single line or 
rule, which encloses the title. Both the printer's trademark and the 
block of the royal arms are used at the end of the work. 

Four copies are known : One of the first state, which belonged to 
Henry Bradshaw, and is now in the University Library. Three of 
the second state at Dublin, Lincoln, and St. John's College. Then 
there are two copies printed on vellum, and these belong to the third 
state, one in the British Museum, wanting the last leaf (26), contain- 
ing the imprint, with the printer's mark and the block of the royal 
arms ; the other belonged to the Duke of Devonshire, and is now in 
the John Rylands Library. Mr. Bowes had some fragments, which 
he bound and presented to the University Library. And we must not 
forget the copy of the first sheet in the third state, found in West- 
minster Chapter Library along with the work next mentioned. 

The ninth work, Lily and Erasmus, de octo partium orationis con- 
strucHone libellus, is represented, at present, by a single leaf of Sheet D 
which I have previously mentioned as being discovered by Mr. E. 
Gordon Duff in 1889, with other most interesting documents, in the 
binding of a work dated 15 19, the binding by Nicholas Spierinck. 
A facsimile of this sheet is given in my little work of 1906. 



23 

This concludes a description of the books printed by Siberch 
during 1521-22. 

Leaving out the fragments, forty-two copies are known of the 
first eight books, of which twelve are in Cambridge libraries. Three 
(i, 2, and 7) are not represented in Cambridge. The three vellum 
copies are in London and Oxford. The ninth book, of which only a 
fragment exists, is at Westminster. 

Where Siberch obtained his type is uncertain. It was thought 
that he brought the type along with him ; it is now more readily 
believed that he procured it from Pynson, or from the same source as 
Pynson. Peter Kaetz's letter to him leads to a confirmation of this 
statement, for he says that the specimens of type are very good, 
proving, I think, that the type was new to him. Certainly most of 
the 6-linc initials were used by Pynson, whilst Wynkyn de VVorde 
had two which we know he used in 15 30. The two upright woodcuts, 
each containing three scenes connected with the Last Judgement in 
canopied compartments, used on the title-page of the Augustine, 
Mr, Jenkinson identifies as closely resembling with a set of fourteen 
used to illustrate the Vigile Mortiiorum in an octavo Horae, with the 
mark of Mark Re}'nhardt, who printed at Lyons in 1477-82, 
probably printed by Johann Reynhard at Strasbourg or Kirchheim. 

The bindings of Siberch are treated fully in my work on The 
Earlier Cambridge Stationers and Bookbinders and the First Cam- 
bridge Printer, printed for the Bibliographical Society, October 1904. 
I there gave a list of six works, three of which are in Cambridge, and 
I have only added one more since. It is only right that I should 
state that Mr. Gordon Duff helped me to collect these, and I may 
mention that on two occasions I had the benefit of his elaborate notes, 
or good memory (I know not which), and that, though the officials at 
these libraries said the books were not there, he gave minute direc- 
tions as to their place, so that when I went again to these libraries 
armed with his directions, the works were found ! One of these 
instances occurred in our University Library, where the book — a 



24 

splendid and unique example too — had remained for some time in its 
carefully-padded box, not catalogued. The other was at the Chapter 
Library at Westminster, but I forget if that was catalogued or not ; 
but I was told it was not in the Library. All students of early 
English printing owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Gordon Dufif, 
who has devoted so many years to travelling round and examining 
our old libraries, and who generously helps fellow-workers. 

Siberch's rolls and stamps are fully illustrated in my work. But 
there are two examples to which I would draw special attention. The 
folio 'La.u.Va\\a,comfneHtatwnes, printed at Venice, 1522 (in Clare College 
Library), has the colophon dated November 10, 1522. I don't think 
this could have reached this country and been bound before 1523, 
and I put this as the date of the binding. The Clichtoveus, De vita 
et moribiis sacerdotum, printed at Paris, 15 19 (in Westminster Chapter 
Library), in whose binding was found Peter Kaetz's letter and frag- 
ments, including an earlier fragment of the Papyrius Geminus 
Hermathena, which, according to the colophon, was printed 8 Decem- 
ber 1522, and the fragment of Lily and Erasmus. This I also 
consider as bound in 1523. 

This leads up to the supposed fact that Siberch was in Cam- 
bridge early in 1523. His name does not appear in the Subsidy Roll 
covering the period 22 April 1523 to 21 April 1524, though Nicholas 
Speryng does. I have suggested that possibly Speryng worked for 
Siberch. Whether he did, or not, he certainly lived in Great St. Mary's 
parish, and as early as 15 17 was a churchwarden of the parish. 

It is therefore presumed that Siberch was in Cambridge certainly 
in 1520, the year previous to his first printed book, with the date 
February 1521, and was living here until early in 1523, and that by 
April of that year had either left the town or died. Certainly the 
debt of ;^20 appears annually in the University Grace Books long 
after this, and curiously enough the entry in the year 1538-39 calls 
him "Dominum Johannem Lair presbiterum alienigenam." In the 
year 1540-41 it is changed to 'laer.' The record appears in various 
forms up to 1546. 



25 

We also know that Erasmus, who had previously lived in Siberch's 
house (the " Arma Regia ") for a while, writing on Christmas Day, 
1525, to Dr. Richard Aldrich of King's College, sends greetings to his 
old friends " Gerardum, Nicolaum, et Joannem Siburgum bibliopolis." 
But it is not surprising that Erasmus knew not of Siberch's departure. 
A thought has struck me that perhaps the date 1525 should really 
be 1523. 

I have tried to bring together all the particulars of the man who 
introduced printing into this University town. Whether he really 
was appointed University Printer we do not know for certain, but by 
his use of the words '* cum gracia et privilegio," I should conclude 
that he was under the protection of the University like other later 
booksellers and printers of that time. 

I cannot help thinking that when the early records of the various 
Colleges are overhauled and possibly printed, additional references to 
him will be found. 

In the meantime we are enforced to rest content w ith the small 
amount of information gathered together by various persons from 
many sources. It now remains for me to say in conclusion that after 
the cessation of Siberch's press no printing was done in this town 
until Thomas Thomas started in 1584 to revive printing here, cer- 
tainly as official printer to the University. 




First used by Siberch in Johannis Roffensis 
episcopi coittio, 1521. 



CAMHRIDGK 

PRINTIiD BY JONATHAN PALMER 

ALEXANDRA STREET 




^